The design recruitment market is really hot at the moment. Largely because founders and leadership teams are beginning to understand the importance of a well designed and well conceived product. As such I’m constantly being asked by leadership teams to help them find early design hires.
Unfortunately there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem when it comes to hiring your first designers. This is because designers want to work for companies that really care about design, and the best way to tell if a company cares is through a well designed product and a well established team.
Founders also struggle to understand what motivates designers, which is why there are so many uninspiring job ads out there. Not being part of the design community also makes it hard to know where good designers hang out and where you should advertise your roles. As such I recently asked my followers where they go to look for new roles, and I thought it would be helpful to summarise the results here.
The Designers Own Network
One of the most popular answers for how designers find new jobs was through their existing networks. This effectively means keeping an eye out for opportunities on social media and the various Slack channels they are members of. It also means tapping up friends who may either be recruiting directly or know people who are.
This is one of the reasons why hiring your first (or even second or third) designer is so hard, because unless you’re a designer yourself, you won’t be tapped into most designers networks, and will be missing out on some of the best talent.
One of the reasons VCs like to invest in founders with prior tech experience is for this very reason. So they can tap into their own networks, and the networks of the designers and developers around them. As such it’s not surprising that a lot of early stage hires come for the places they’re worked before. Just be aware that recruiting exclusively from your existing network can also bake biases into your candidate pipeline (see below).
While it helps to have an existing network of designers to draw from, many people find themselves needing to build a network from scratch. A simple way of doing this would be to attend design conferences and…